Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
November 10,  2005

Williams still 'top' team
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) Williams has refused to embrace popular perception that it should no longer count itself among the very 'top' team players in F1 pitlane.

Having split with BMW, last secured a title in 1997 and finished fifth in this season's constructors' fight, the team co-owned by Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head says it can still be a force.

''In the last three decades,'' technical director Sam Michael told 'Motorsport Aktuell' magazine, ''Williams, McLaren and Ferrari have dominated formula one.''

He added: ''Renault interfered now and then, but generally that was always the 'big three'.''

With that in mind, despite having to contest 2006 with effectively a 'customer' Cosworth engine, Australia's Michael said the ultimate goal will always be to triumph.

''If you don't think like that,'' Michael persisted, ''then even mentally you're not a top team. We will never be content without victory.''

The prospect for 2006, meanwhile, is not all bad. The engine may not be works backed and the budget may be less, but Michael says the second wind tunnel is now fully calibrated -- unlike in early '05 when it supplied bad data.

Also changed is the design front, with Gavin Fisher out the door and former BAR man Jorg Sander occupying his office.

Michael said: ''We said to (Sander) immediately (in September), 'forget the current car, concentrate on the FW28 for 2006'.'

''We want to start winning again, which is what we have told all of our sponsors and it's what we have told Cosworth.''

Button backed by ex-champ
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) Jacques Villeneuve has backed former teammate Jenson Button's decision to stay at BAR-Honda in 2006, despite the Briton earlier signing a binding contract to switch to Williams.

Villeneuve, Williams' 1997 title winner who drove a Sauber this year, reckons the newly Honda-owned Brackley team he helped to establish seven years ago has 'a better future' than Frank's Grove squad.

''Definitely the right decision,'' JV, 34, told F1 Racing magazine, ''and there was no better seat available.''

Villeneuve raced for BAR between 1999 and 2003 before he was ousted by David Richards.

He admitted, however, that Button - embroiled in 'Buttongate' sagas for two years on the trot - might face a problem if he ever wanted to leave the Honda camp.

''Some team bosses,'' Jacques Villeneuve explained, ''might think twice about signing him.''

'JVC' logo to Midland
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) Christijan Albers' 'JVC' sponsorship will move with the 2005 Minardi rookie to his new home, Midland, next year.

A statement said the JVC logo would appear on the Dutchman's race gear, cap and helmet, as well as the 2006 Midland car, to be branded 'M16'.

''We expect good results in 2006,'' said marketing director of JVC Benelux, Ruud Nagel, ''and hope to support him and Midland ... for many years.''

(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) In Germany's popular tabloid 'Bild' newspaper, a bold headline exclaimed: 'Silber-rari'.

It's an amalgam of 'silver' and 'Ferrari' -- Bild's analysis of what Red Bull might be like in the near future.

With a Ferrari engine and McLaren technical director Adrian Newey at the design table, the team owned by Dietrich Mateschitz is tipped to soon become a formula one force.

If you listen to McLaren-Mercedes, though, the albeit significant loss of Newey is not the end of the world. Mercedes' Norbert Haug reckons the silver camp is set up with 'broad enough a philosophy' to deal with any hit.

''We are well prepared for 2006 and beyond,'' the German continued to the 'SID' agency.

A Woking based spokeswoman, in addition, explained that Newey has been 'fully involved' in re-structuring the team to cope with his departure.

''This team,'' she said, ''has already worked successfully together on the (2005) MP4-20 and continues to be fully focused on the MP4-21.''

STR's F1 lineup 'still open'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) The renamed 'Squadra Toro Rosso' team has not yet decided on a driver lineup for the 2006 season.

Although an earlier document confirmed that Red Bull, who took over Minardi on 1 November, would choose from Vitantonio Liuzzi, Christian Klien, Neel Jani and Scott Speed, widespread supposition reckoned that Speed and Liuzzi were in pole for the rides.

But an introductory 'Toro Rosso' team statement read: 'The question of the 2006 cockpit occupants ... is still open'.

The Red Bull document also clarified that the 'name of the tire supplier' is similarly yet to be decided upon, and vowed to comply with the regulations by operating 'completely independently' of the senior team.

It is also worth noting that 'www.minardi.it' now redirects to the Red Bull company internet website, as does 'www.squadratororosso.it'.

'At least I'm talented'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) 1980 world champion Alan Jones has spiritedly bitten back at former grand prix rival Christian Danner's claim that he and Patrick Tambay are 'fat'.

The trio are part of fourteen ex-F1 stars to race in the novel 'Grand Prix Masters' event in South Africa this weekend.

''Hey,'' Australia's Jones, 59, told Autosport, ''at least I'm talented and I can lose weight.

''I'm just looking to have fun and see some old friends.''

Elsewhere, it is reported that Jones and fellow former champion Emerson Fittipaldi may drive in a 'Proton Satria' support race at the Sepang (Malaysia) round of the 'A1' category next weekend.

Dutchman Jan Lammers may also take part, as will A1 founder and Dubai royal, Sheikh Maktoum.

Two more for 'RoC' lineup
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) F1 hopefuls Dan Wheldon and Sebastien Bourdais have been added to the star-studded lineup for Paris' 'Race of Champions' to be held in December.

Britain's Wheldon won the US based IRL championship in 2005, as well as the Indy 500.

''I hear the atmosphere at the Stade de France is electric,'' Wheldon - who 'accepted the invitation' of the RoC organizers - enthused.

Competitors are challenged at the wheel of Citroen WRC cars, Porsche 911, the Renault Megane and 'RoC' racer.

Frenchman Bourdais, meanwhile - back to back open wheel 'Champ Car' winner - also took part in the event a year ago.

F1 stars David Coulthard and Felipe Massa, F1 hopeful Heikki Kovalainen and former grand prix winner Jean Alesi are among the 2005 RoC lineup.

Outwit 'DC'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) Think you can outwit eleven-year grand prix veteran David Coulthard?

A unique 'motoring intelligence test', devised by eBay and Mensa, can be found at 'www.ebaymotors.co.uk/miq'.

Coulthard, Red Bull's lead driver, has already taken the test, thus challenging the wider world to tackle the Scot.

''Fingers crossed I've done enough to ward off other drivers and stay on top of the leader board,'' 'DC' quipped.

The quiz, including a prize of $5000, runs until 20 November.

'Irv' is 40
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) Retired formula one playboy Eddie Irvine will be celebrating his fortieth birthday on 10 November.

Born in Northern Ireland in 1965, a 28-year-old 'Irv' debuted with a wallop at Suzuka (1993) by taking a punch on the mouth by Ayrton Senna, who he had overtaken despite being a full lap down.

The crowning moment of his career came at the same circuit in 1999, when he so nearly snared the championship after Ferrari team leader Michael Schumacher had broken his leg.

Irvine retired in 2002 after three further years at Jaguar.

Elsewhere, it is reported that former F1, Champ Car and IRL driver Roberto Moreno, of Brazil, will race a Brazilian V8 Stock Car at Rio this weekend.

He raced 42 times for teams like Coloni, Benetton and Forti.

''I still need the challenge of motor racing in my life,'' he told the 'Speed TV' website.

Midland boss attacks Narain
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) Jordan-Midland principal Colin Kolles has launched an astonishing attack on Narain Karthikeyan, after the Indian rookie said he could not afford to stay at the team in 2006.

Kolles slammed the 28-year-old driver's 'unprofessional behavior and his unprofessional management' and rubbished Karthikeyan's revelation that a doubled bill ($9-14m) for the pay-drive is the reason for his exit.

''Narain has lost out because of his management,'' Colin Kolles told the Indian 'Economic Times' newspaper on Thursday.

''A pro driver has professional management but we didn't see that in his case.''

It is widely believed that Tiago Monteiro, Karthikeyan's '05 teammate who is strongly backed by the Portuguese government, has landed the second Midland 2006 race drive.

Kolles, who rebuked the Indian's $12 million claim, continued: ''Narain was just not available for us. He had a very fair offer from us and it was much less than what he said.

''Money is not really the problem. To succeed in
formula one, one needs a lot more.''

Colin Kolles also denied that Jordan received any benefit from the fact that Karthikeyan was the first Indian driver to race in the sport.

''The benefits for us were zero,'' said the Romanian. ''It did nothing for Jordan.''

Karthikeyan, who endured a trying relationship with the team boss, rebuked Kolles' account by insisting he would have 'jumped' at the Midland seat had the price tag been lower.

The Indian insisted: ''I stand by what I've said. If he doesn't like the way we work, then don't like the way he works.''

Why Frank ignored 'Ant'
(GMMf1NET -- Nov.10) Sir Frank Williams has defended signing 20-year-old rookie Nico Rosberg, when the highly rated BAR test driver Anthony Davidson was also on the market.

''Nico is a very intelligent and commanding driver,'' the Grove based boss told Germany's Motorsport Aktuell magazine.

''As to whether he is good enough for formula one, we'll find out in March next season.''

Surely, though, Williams knows more about the talents of countryman Davidson, a long time BAR-Honda tester who was briefly considered for Nick Heidfeld's 2005 drive.

But Briton Frank says he knows 'nothing at all' about the 26-year-old, who raced twice for Minardi in 2002 and for BAR in the '05 Bahrain GP.

''He has only really driven (at grands prix) on the Fridays,'' Williams explained, ''so you never really know exactly under what conditions he was driving.''

Little 'Ant', however, should not despair too much -- Williams is also still coming to grips with the talent of Australian team driver Mark Webber.

While Frank lauds his 'outstanding' qualifying talents, he does wonder whether Webber compares with F1's best in the grands prix. ''He has still to prove that,'' he said.

Technical director Sam Michael backs his Oxfordshire-based boss. ''Mark has proved that he has a very high basic speed in qualifying,'' said Webber's countryman.

Michael continued: ''He does not always convert that to the races.''

Anyway, Williams would seemingly rather work with Webber and Rosberg than the former lineup (2004) of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Sir Frank branded the departed pair, now racing for Toyota and McLaren, 'Prima Donnas'.

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